KEYSER - The West Virginia Division of Highways has committed to beginning the next phase of a Tier 2 environmental impact study on the upgrade of U.S. 220 in Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy and Grant counties.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The West Virginia Division of Highways has committed to beginning the next phase of a Tier 2 environmental impact study on the upgrade of U.S. 220 in Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy and Grant counties.
According to Del. Gary Howell, who has been working with the DOH to get this next phase on their agenda, this study will be included in the work to be funded if the upcoming “Roads to Prosperity” referendum is passed on Oct. 7.
Although the WVDOH had previously presented the West Virginia Press Association with a spreadsheet of highways projects slated for each county, Howell told the News Tribune that the four projects listed in Mineral County were already in the works and would be completed no matter the outcome of the election.
Howell said he spoke with Transportation Secretary Tom Smith about the possibility of getting Route 220 on the short list.
“I told him there’s no reason for the people of Mineral County to vote for this bond; there’s nothing in it for them,” he said.
The DOH therefore issued a short statement this week saying they had committed to the next phase of the 220 project, “in order to prepare for future growth and economic recovery in the Potomac Highlands.”
Howell said business and industry in the area will benefit from the upgrade of the highway, which will bring with it “the ability to have really good manufacturing jobs.”
The general alignment for the new Route 220 in Mineral County has already been chosen, with the highway set to follow the base of the mountain to the west of Keyser. The Tier 2 study will “narrow it down to the actual road bed,” Howell said.
The number and location of exits into Keyser will also be set during the second study.
Howell estimates it will take at least a year to complete the study. After that, the DOH has committed to “move construction to the earliest possible date.”
Howell also told the News Tribune he has been asked by constituents to work with the DOH on possible upgrades to relieve hazards on Route 28 and he continues to strive in that direction.